A Bowl of Lanzones…


Today would have been my mom’s 81st birthday. She passed away 11 years ago but I still think of her often. Oddly, you see more of your parents in yourself than most folks would like to admit, and hopefully, you just get more of the good rather than the bad traits. It must be a function of getting older too that your memory banks seem to be more full than the current inbox… so I thought of mom recently and wondered what tropical fruit she might like to have on her birthday, considering that so many are currently in season and she was a big fruit fan. Would it be a luscious sweet, slightly sandy chico? Or perhaps her beloved papayas to flush out the pipes? What about a nice ripe Cebuano mango? Several sections of langka? Would she lovingly remove the eyes of a sweet pineapple and carve grooves around the fruit like a barber’s pole? Or would she eschew fruit altogether in favor of a Boholano ube to be made into her favorite ube jaleya? If I know my mom, she would want it all… But I think she would have also appreciated a simple bowl of lanzones…

Up here in Manila, we are used to seeing lanzones later in the year, say July and August, but down South, where the bulk of local lanzones apparently grow, the season is earlier in the year. So when I spied the last remnants of lanzones in Cebu a couple of weeks ago, I sent someone to the Carbon market to buy me a few kilos. They were a day short of their ripest (actually, mom used to eat them when the skins started to discolor, saying they were sweetest then, just before turning rotten) and while good, not outstanding. Never mind, it’s the thought that counts…and this bowl of lanzones, if left a day or two longer to achieve maximum sweetness, would have been devoured by my mom for sure! She would methodically open the fruit by squeezing it a certain way, and none of the flesh would have gone to waste, and a minimal amount of the sticky sap would soil her fingers. Somehow, her bitter green seeds always seemed cleaner than mine ever will… Isn’t it weird what minute details you remember of a person who has passed away? Happy Birthday Mom!


28 Responses

  1. i’m a lanzones girl too, and so was my lola (passed away last year) I recall her saying it acts as a laxative for her =D Saying things like that struck me as odd when I was younger, but now I also totally appreciate the pipe-cleaning abilities of things i eat =D

  2. Who would not love sweet juicy lanzones? They are just sublime! When I used to buy them, I look for those black ants that are crawling on their stems. The presence of these ants is a good sign they are sweet and the oblong ones as opposed to the round ones Your bowl of lanzones is a very compassionate tribute to your wonderful Mother on this very special day.

  3. Some claim that the Kiton Eau de Toilette, a hardly accessible business power fragrance even here, smells of fresh dollar bills but I bought a large flask of it because it reminds me of newly picked lanzones.

    Transmit as much information about her to your daughter since that’s about the only way your mom can come close to immortality.

  4. Maria Clara, I’ve heard that unscrupulous vendors purposely put ants on the lanzones to trick buyers into thinking they’re sweet. This happened in Cebu I wonder how true or prevalent this practice is. Sometimes they will you sample one that is sweet and sell you an inferior one too, happens with other fruits as well.

  5. My mom and I also have our quality times sharing fruits of this and that whenever I go visiting. Lanzones, rambutan and siniguelas are like the pica-pica types of fruits. And then the rest of the family joins in whether because of watching a video or simply sharing/chatting about little events that had happened to us. It is like “breaking bread” with everyone and because of the unconscious ritual-ization, its does become immortalized in one’s sense of what is “togetherness.” A Happy Birthday to your Mom, as well!

  6. Mmmmm….lanzones, they remind me of my maternal grandmother. It’s been such a long time since I’ve tasted them. Everytime I read your posts I come a little bit closer to booking a ticket home.

  7. Lanzones is my all time favorite fruit. My grandmother who is in her eighties loves them just as much. I’ve bonded with her all throughout my growing up years eating and enjoying lanzones . She has shared memories over a big bowl of this fruit and it has always been a good feeling, having to run for the john….a perfect laxative as well!!! We always look forward for the lanzones season and that alone would always bring a smile on her face.

  8. Over-ripe is how I like my lanzones–nice to know your Mom liked it that way too. I’m sure my son would look back to this with fondness 20 to 30 years hence–and fix up a bowl for me on my birthday as well. You’re such a good son, MM. Happy birthday to your Mom and have a great weekend yourself.

  9. I got lucky 27 months ago while at a Filipino Store in Delano, CA – they had frozen lanzones. I believe we bought a couple of lbs. I was ecstatic coz before that, the last time I had them was 18 years prior, in Manila and they were the fresh kinds. Gosh, I miss the tiklis of lanzones my siblings & I would devour, seemingly in a matter of minutes. Kain giyera, sabi ng Mommy ko.

  10. Happy 81st birthday to your Mom, MM. Now that I am a mom too, myself, I learned how to appreciate my mother even more. I miss her, I hope I could visit her and the rest of the family, soon.

    I love lanzones, too! Just like your mom, I love it when it is a little bit over-riped, she is right, they are at their sweetest when over riped. I would eat a kilo of those in one sitting.

  11. I do miss lanzones. I tried the lanzones in Thailand when hubby and I went there last year, but it doesn’t taste as good as what we have back there in Phils (or is it just in my mind? hehe). I remember one time when we were back in Bohol, and Mommy was challenging the vendor if it was sweet or not, she tasted not one but 3 lanzones and didn’t show any sign of buying it at first. The vendor wasn’t very happy with that. Happy 81st birthday to your mom MM. She must be very proud of you.

  12. As much as I love your writing about food, I like it even better when you write about your family. Very tender, not sappy, deep layers of feelings.

    And hello to Apicio. I was thinking a while ago that it’s been a while since I last saw his name, have always looked forward to reading his thoughts.

    So, MM, what treasures did you spot in the market today!

  13. in malaysia they are called langsat. they are a real favorite with the locals too. i prefer the smaller ones as they are seedless and can be eaten without spitting out the seeds.

  14. Cumin, you might be surprised… especially since I am headed out not to my normal markets… Yes, a lot of folks are pleased Apicio is back with his comments… he takes these long trips that take him away from computers… It’s funny how there seems to be so much commonality in childhood, food, family experiences…

  15. wow . . . I think i haven’t eaten lanzones for the past 8 years. when i saw the pictures natakam tuloy ako. there are some lanzones sold here but in vietnamise or chinese stores but they are so expensive $20.00 a kilos and you only see them once in a blue moon and I don’t know if they came from the Philippines.

  16. My Yummy copy was in the mailbox yesterday (Friday) – thank you thank you!!!
    I love lanzones too, I wonder whether they don’t ship well fresh? I’ve never seen them here in the US. Your post made me senti tuloy…
    And welcome back Apicio! I’ve missed your comments/contributions :) BTW, Florante Aguilar is still a staple on my playlist and I’m looking forward to his next CD!

  17. May 4 was my Mom’s birthday, and she just turned 81. I learned to eat lanzones from her, too, and just like your mom, through the years I’ve noticed that they really are at their sweetest when the skins start to turn brown. When I was a kid, my mom used to dry the lanzones skins and use them to literally smoke the house – she’d go around the house with a potful of lanzones “embers” – to keep the mosquitos away, according to her. I used to follow her around, pretending I was in heaven, since all you could see on those occasions were clouds of white, puffy smoke. Thanks for that entry – it helped me remember a part of my childhood I’d almost forgotten. And thanks for reminding me to treasure my own mom while we still have time to be together.

  18. I also remember my lolas. . . and yeah they eat a lot of fruits, there will always be some in the fridge, some in the counter, some in the dining table, bananas or sinegualas or any fruit ready to be eaten all around the house, they just enjoy sitting and chatting eating tons of fruits, hmmm maybe we should eat that way rather than taking some junk food for snack. . .

  19. When i saw the lanzones photo, the first thing that came to my mind was my lola who passed last yr. Lazones was one of my faves growing up, funny thing was althoug it’s one of my faves, i don’t eat them all in one seating, fr some reason if i eat a lot i get a tummy ache.so there would always be some left over. my lola doesn’t put them away in the fridge, she would just leave them out in the counter, and by the time i get to eat them, i always complain to her that there were blacks ants in the bowl, she would then tell me in a firmer tone of her voice (not galit voice) – “kasi dapat kinain mona agad, yan tuloy inuhan ka ng mga langgam”!!!
    I miss you lola!

  20. i love lanzones and it’s been ages since i had one!…..i sure do miss the fruits you’ve been featuring MM, someday sana maka-bakasyon kami during summer natin …. i miss my lola too, she passed away last year, 4th may, the same day as my papa’s bday ……

  21. That was a very nice post, MM. The comments are also heartwarming as well! Lanzones are a “social” fruit. They taste better when one eats them with others, di ba? Malungkot pag kumakain ng lanzones na mag-isa…they really taste sweeter when shared with people you care about!!!

  22. i’m a lanzones boy, originally from Paete, Laguna

    there was a time when we’d just ask some friends who had just harvested lanzones and place them on our shirts eating away at the succulent fruit

    those days are gone but not the lanzones. We now have our own small plot of land with lanzones trees to harvest in september/october

    i also bought 1/2 kilo in Munoz last weekend, something the vendor said came from Camiguin, but they don’t come close to how sweet my memory of lanzones was.

    I once organized a trip to my hometown where we trekked to our lanzones “plantation” and harvested our own…

    hmmm…might do that again and blog about it :)

  23. Sarap! nakakamiss talaga ang pinas esp. because of this,
    one of my favorites! A very sweet post for your mom.
    My bff has also mentioned about their lanzones kaing-harvest
    in San Pablo, Laguna. I heard it’s really good! I’d surely love to visit when it’s picking season. Must be fun!

  24. I am presently living here in NY and 5 months pregnant. unfortunately, I am craving for lanzones in which I haven’t seen some produce here. My relatives told me to go to California or Canada were there is a high chance of lanzones produce….
    How I wish I could go back home and eat a lot…
    I miss Philippines! I miss lanzones

  25. I live here in Seattle, washington and my girlfriend in Gingoog City was just mentioning lanzones last night. I’m coming to the Philippines in January 2009 and look forward to tasting the fruit.



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